What to do with Confederate monuments: Seven lessons from Germany

Yuliya Komska writes: The overdue momentum to remove various Confederate symbols, especially some 1,500 statues, from their perches has picked up across the country in the wake of right-wing violence in Charlottesville. In Gainesville, Fla., Durham, N.C., and Baltimore, the toppling has already begun. In some cases, state or local authorities have driven the process. In others, activists have seized the initiative to speed things up.

Yet despite the growing consensus that the “dangerous totems” (as Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings has dubbed them) must go, there is no agreement about the monuments’ fates. Ideas range from traceless destruction to warehouse storage to museum display. Some propose, to quieter applause, to keep the objects in place, accompanied by appropriate labeling.

In the cacophony of opinions, few observers and participants seem bothered by the lack of a coherent, thought-out strategy for disposing of the Confederacy’s visible traces while preserving evidence of this vitally important chapter of our past.

They should be. Not out of concern for the preposterous right-wing lament about the erasure of history, but because the task at hand is to purge the imagery in a way that guards against amnesia while also transforming the statues from celebratory monuments into objective evidence. [Continue reading…]

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